Scripps Presents Speaker Series Features Radio Host Maria Hinojosa

Maria Jinojosa, anchor and executive producer of Latino USA, speaks about media representation of marginalized communities at Scripps College on Oct. 4. (Alyssa Alfonso • The Student Life)

On Oct. 4, Scripps College hosted Maria Hinojosa, a renowned radio host, as part of the Scripps Presents speaker series.

Hinojosa is recognized as an important leader in the world of journalism.

“For 25 years she’s hosted ‘Latino USA’ on NPR and has been committed to telling the stories and sharing the perspectives of individuals whose experiences have not often been part of mainstream journalism,” Corrina Lesser, Director of the Public Events Program, wrote in an email to TSL.

For Lesser, Hinojosa’s role as a Latina radio personality is a defining aspect of her national importance. Hinojosa is the host of “Latino USA,” which, according to the Scripps Presents website, is aimed at “giving a critical voice to the diversity of the American experience.”

The program was structured as a dialogue between Hinojosa and Alex Cohen, the nationally renowned host of popular NPR programs like “Morning Edition” and “Take Two.” Entitled “Owning Your Voice.” The conversation was in large part focused on Hinojosa’s experience as a Latina radio and broadcast personality in an industry long dominated by white men.

Scripps Presents, organized by Scripps’ Office of Public Events and Community Programs, attempts to “convene creatives and scholars from across the disciplines for conversation and reflection with our community,” Lesser wrote. “Scripps Presents is a way to bring the outside into our world and share our vantage points with some of the most thoughtful and provocative thinkers today.”

The Scripps Events Advisory Committee, a group of students, faculty, and staff, chose speakers for the series.

“Through discussion with that group, we determine the kinds of ideas that we think would be great on the stage,” Lesser said. “We’re committed to aligning programs with the curriculum, and thinking about the issues that are trending among students, faculty, and staff.”

For Pablo Ordóñez PO ’18, it was “awesome to see a journalist of color in a field that traditionally has been inaccessible for many marginalized peoples.”

“The importance of marginalized voices in spaces that often don’t have them, especially the media which shapes narratives widely,” was an imperative part of Tuesday night’s conversation, according to Ordóñez.

Throughout the night’s conversation, Hinojosa discussed her early experiences growing up in a Mexican-American family who did not see themselves represented in the media they consumed.

“It planted a seed in me,” Hinojosa said. “Why do we love journalism in my home, but we never see ourselves there?”

This idea was the beginning of a long path that would make Hinojosa a renowned journalist to both the American Latino/Latina community and the larger national audience.

In addition to discussing her personal experience in journalism, Hinojosa talked about the recent work she has undertaken, some of which is inspired by this year’s presidential election. Hinojosa is interested in both the “white America that feels unheard” and “Latinos/Latinas who are supportive of Donald Trump,” and she has recently been researching both groups.

During her talk, Hinojosa questioned why the percentage of Latinos/Latinas supporting Trump is so high.

“What is that about?” Lesser asked in the discussion. “Is it about us [Latinos/Latinas] feeling like we have to prove that we love this country so much?”

In addition to these topics, Hinojosa wants there to be a discussion of the role media has played in this election season.

“I don’t think that we as a country have had a conversation about journalism today,” Hinojosa said.

She added that it is important for journalists and the media in general to take a critical look at the role they have played in this year’s elections and ask themselves if they really want to be seen as responsible for the outcome of this year’s elections.

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